Our additional support for families and businesses this Christmas

Some of the food supplied by Sunnyside Supplies to local residents earlier this year

Councillors met last week in an urgent Cabinet meeting to ensure that families and businesses across the borough receive the additional support they need this Christmas.

Following a high profile campaign led by the footballer Marcus Rashford, and after being embarassed by councils like Rotherham over the government’s failure to provide free school meals during October half term, the government gave a late grant to the council to prevent a repeat – and we’ve acted quickly to make sure local people benefit.

Because of the decision we took last week:

  • All eligible children in the borough will receive vouchers to the value of free school meals for both the Christmas and February half term holidays
  • There will be additional support for the Rotherham Food in Crisis Partnership Christmas appeal, which is expected to provide food for 300 families requiring support this Christmas
  • Support with the purchase of school uniforms will be extended to more families facing financial difficulties – families with children who are either entitled to free school meals, or who receive Pupil Premium will be contacted directly about this
  • £250,000 will support households in financial need who are facing unexpected or unaffordable bills to prevent them from falling into financial crisis, subject to engagement and support from the Council’s Advocacy and Appeals service or partners

This latest package of measures follows on from decisions taken earlier in the year to give those in need additional help with their council tax bills, providing crisis food deliveries, and supplying non-food items such as kitchen items. The council works with our local Citizens Advice Bureau and other partners such as Kiveton Park Advice Centre to reach those who need support the most.

If you’re worried about your circumstances this Christmas, please get in touch and get the help you’re entitled to, either by completing the online form or by calling 01709 807319.

At the same time, we’ve also extended support for businesses that have been hit by Coronavirus, with a focus on small businesses, the self-employed, people who work for themselves from home or from mobile premises, and who have been excluded by national support schemes. Even if you haven’t been eligible from support previously and haven’t been forced to close, if your business has been adversely affected by Covid over the last few months we would encourage you to get in touch via this form on the council’s website to ensure you get the financial support that’ there for you.

Commenting on the meeting, Cllr Chris Read said;

“It can be stressful time in any year, but the impacts of the COVID pandemic means that having what might be regarded as a normal Christmas is going to be difficult for many vulnerable and low-income families. After everything else that’s happened, this shouldn’t be the year to be worrying about the lack of free school meals, the cost of a new school jumper, or an unexpected electricity bill. Hopefully, by using this grant funding quickly, we can ease some of those worries and make sure that every child in the borough has the Christmas they deserve.  

“At the same time, whilst we hope this small grant funding will give a little relief to the self-employed or others who have fallen through the cracks of other business support funding, we are acutely aware that it is only a little bit of relief. That is why I’ve written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government calling for a commitment to provide further support to areas like Rotherham, which have experienced a longer period of Tier 3 restrictions than most of the country.”

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